Jesus freed a donkey that was tied and rode on it into Jerusalem. Can he use us who have been set free for his glory too?
Matthew 21:1-11 - The Donkey
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on Matthew 21:1-11. This is a relatively long passage, but I will keep the reflection short. Listen.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Many years ago, when I had just gotten into ministry, a preacher told me that I should not think of myself as anything special. He said very earnestly: “You must think of yourself as the donkey that Jesus rode on into Jerusalem.” Well, I thought to myself, that donkey must have felt pretty special that Jesus chose him to ride on! No?
Jokes aside, we can learn a few things from this story because, like the donkey, we are also tied, albeit to sin. Jesus can free us, as he freed the donkey. However, we must realize that we are enslaved and admit to it. Most people believe they are good people, just like the Jews did. One day, Jesus said to them, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (John 8:31-33). What a joke! The Jews had been in bondage to Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Romans, yet denied being slaves to anyone. But we can be equally dense. I have lost count of the number of people who believe they are good people who don’t sin.
As John wrote in his first letter: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
Jesus can set us free, not just from sin but from everything else that has us enslaved too. It is why he came down to earth. When we are free, we must remember not to use our freedom to suit our own purposes but to serve God, like the donkey in our story, for his glory. One way of doing this is by testifying to the goodness and greatness of our God, which will encourage others to turn to Christ and experience freedom for themselves.
If you have been set free, start testifying today. And let the world cry, “Hosanna!”
May the Spirit be with you.